Video Game Absurdity (Now In List Flavor!)

I created a blog this week (right here in fact) about games that focus on absurdist and surrealist humor as a stylistic method to either frame an otherwise unremarkable game (like Amped 3) or modify the gameplay in a way so that it becomes purposefully abstruse for the sake of comedy (like You Don't Know Jack). I've taken that idea a little further here with this list, thinking of as many absolutely absurd games as possible and how their particular brand of crazy enhances (or mars) their respective gameplay experiences.

I have no idea why I'm talking about this list like it's some college essay. It's a list of crazy games, y'all. For more weirdness, might I suggest these TVTropes pages? It's not like I'm subtle about my browsing that site for ideas.

List items

  • Obligatory. Just watch the site's QL of all the cutscenes for more information on Canadian sockpuppets, Freezorg the God of Lightning (and Ice) and Menage á Brahs.

  • Regular trivia questions presented in the most obfuscating way possible. Figure out what they're asking you before you answer and beware the Dis or Dats.

  • I probably ought to just put "Suda 51" here and skip the games, but might as well try and spread out this insanity out a little. Invisible psychotic loons have the world by the short and curlies and the only salvation is in a MPD-inflicted assassin and his seven alter-egos. The story gets weirder from there.

  • Actually kind of subdued. At least compared to Killer 7. At least we have a guy with a clear set of goals who clearly is a guy. It's the presentation that makes it though, especially with the idiosyncratic introductions of each rival assassin.

  • Join Garcia Fucking Hotspur and his talking skull sidekick Johnson as they pass through the world of demons. Some serious liberties were taken with our collective perception of the netherworld.

  • This one has cheerleaders, chainsaws and zombies. Kind of scraping the barrel, but at least the jokes are funnier than those of Shadows of the Damned.

  • I don't really need to go into this Twin Peaks homage as directed by the Japanese video game designer equivalent to David Lynch, do I? I mean the site's kind of covered it in depth.

  • Part Pikmin, part Sim City and part whimsical RPG adventure, Little King's Story flies off its rocker a tad when it comes to the rival Kings (such as the diabolical King TV Dinnah) you must bring down and its final stretch where King Corobo has to personally thwart a world-ending series of tremors by flying outside of reality itself.

  • Once again, I'm tempted to just put Cavia up here and call it a day. I'll start with Nier, since it's the most accessible. It's really just the tale of a guy who will do anything to save his daughter, whether it's through earning money through fetch quests, saving the world from shadowy forces, becoming the greatest threat to mankind or erasing his own existence. Cavia, yo.

  • Drakengard's a little less accessible (read: fun) than Nier, as its Dynasty Warriors meets Panzer Dragoon shenanigans aren't as palatable as they perhaps sound. However, the sixteen shades of crazy happen after you beat the game once and can start unlocking the increasingly messed up alternate endings, each more apocalyptic than the previous. The very last of which ends with you fighting an eldritch God in an absurdly difficult rhythm game over modern Tokyo. Yep.

  • Really ought to be getting back to games that use absurdist humor, rather than those that are weird for the sake of weird. Typing of the Dead is a good example, since you'll be touch-typing sentences of the most surreal nonsense in order to not suffer like G did. It's chaos. In the city.

  • Probably shouldn't have waited this long to mention Katamari Damacy. After so many of these games, though, it's almost as if the concept of rolling a giant sticky ball across the landscape to pick up as many items, people and creatures as possible is perfectly normal. Though to be fair, you could say something similar about Super Mario or Pac-Man.

  • I'm just going for the obvious stuff now, like Cho Aniki's venerable shoot-em-up franchise featuring muscle men and all manner of homo-erotic imagery. It's like the Shadow Kanji boss fight stretched out (really wish I could've used a different term there) across an entire game series.

  • I wish, I wish I hadn't talked to that fish. Seaman is the story of a man-fish that you must raise with care, despite its torrents of verbal abuse, that you can communicate with thanks to the Dreamcast's spotty voice recognition peripheral. Narrated by Leonard Nimoy.

  • WarioWare is another one like You Don't Know Jack, where the challenge isn't so much following the simple commands for every micro game it flings your way, but to do so in spite of the surreal, distracting trappings of the micro games in question.

  • And like WarioWare, this series takes that concept of distracting weirdness and turns it into a series of rhythm-based challenges. As before, you need to focus on the music to know when to tap the right buttons and try as hard as you can to ignore what's going on the screen, because it's really only there to mess up your timing.

  • I.. I don't even know. I've seen this game once and if the site's database didn't have it I could've sworn I imagined it.

  • I really kind of want this game, from the makers of GiftPia and (importantly) Chibi Robo, where a superhero and his alter ego help a bunch of second-rate Nintendo characters (like Birdo) with their problems. It's like the Nintendo version of Segagaga. Talking of which...

  • Towards the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan, Sega went a little nuts with the creation of this meta commentary-slash-RPG detailing the inner-workings of the Sega empire. You're a manager that's wrangling classic Sega characters alongside regular employees and attempting to defeat the rival company and their not-so-subtle ersatz of the PS2. Which of course won that particular bout in the real world. If only Segata Sanshiro had made an appearance...

  • I'll end with an example from a reasonably straightforward (or as straightforward as a massively open-world RPG can be) game. Shivering Isles tasked the player with saving an island of concentrated madness, led by the Daedric Prince of same, from an order-espousing rival deity. Of course, actually figuring out what any of these nutcases wanted and then helping them with their arbitrary goals was often an exercise in mind-bending futility. It almost seemed like they wanted you to join them...